The Western Balkans and the Via Dinarica Trail: Undiscovered Beauty Becomes 2016’s Must-See Region of the Year
The western half of the Balkan Peninsula, in Southeastern Europe, is the world’s next must-see adventure and cultural playground. Tourism professionals from the region will be in attendance at the 50th ITB Berlin travel tradeshow March 9-13 — the Via Dinarica Trail and the Western Balkans Network will be located in Hall 4.1/225) — and look forward to sharing future travel experiences with guests.
The Western Balkans will also have a special presentation on Wednesday, March 9, from 15:30 – 16:00, during the 11th Powwow for Tourism in the Adventure Stage & Event Area of Hall 4.1.b. All are welcome.
Holiday escape artists are quickly learning that travel to the Western Balkan countries of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia means sailing in the Adriatic Sea, skiing in the Dinaric Alps, kayaking in pristine rivers, and hiking on trails among the continent’s last remaining old-growth forests. As well, the region offers top-end gastronomic delights—award-winning wine, truffles, olive oil, cheese, prosciutto, and seafood—and authentic old-world culture.
By every measure, 2015 was a banner year for the region. Visitors came to the area in record numbers. Travel publications filled their pages and websites with stories and touring possibilities. And the countries across the peninsula worked to brand the Western Balkans as a cross-border, collaborative haven for holiday adventure.
For travelers, two important, regional, cross-border networks have made vacations in the Balkans infinitely easier and rewarding.
The Via Dinarica Alliance (via-dinarica.org) is a group of private adventure tourism companies, which work together to share the beauty of the world’s newest mega-hiking trail: The Via Dinarica. The route covers nearly 2,000 kilometers and traverses from Slovenia through Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Serbia, Kosovo, and Macedonia. The Alliance members each have countries of expertise and take adventurers to mountain summits and raging rivers, remote huts and B&Bs, slow-food gems and traditional festivals. The Via Dinarica trail was named Outside magazine’s “Best New Hiking Trail,” one of Wanderlust travel magazine’s “Where to travel in 2016,” and a Top 10 European adventure holiday by The Guardian.
The Western Balkans Geotourism Network is a private sector initiative of businesses from six separately promoted tourism destinations: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia. The purpose of the Network is to promote the development of tourism, which values and preserves the unique cultural and natural heritage of the whole region. Travelers can book tours with the network to enjoy gastronomic delights, great music, and outdoor excursions.